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Make Enemies into Brethren

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By Chris Sparks (May 31, 2018)
The Catholic Church in the United States is almost uniquely free from persecution.

Yes, we've had our struggles with the HHS mandate, and yes, a creeping secularism in our laws and elites continues to forebode hard times to come. But at the moment, we're doing remarkably well.

The Church around the world, however, continues to confront some of the worst persecution she's ever seen.

Noted Vatican journalist John Allen writes:

The high-end estimate for the number of new Christian martyrs every year is around 100,000, while the low end is conventionally pegged at around 8,000. That works out to somewhere between one Christian killed for the faith every five minutes, and one every hour — either way, it's a human rights scourge of staggering proportions.

Open Doors International, a Protestant watchdog group that tracks anti-Christian persecution, estimates that globally, some 200 million Christians every day are at risk of harassment, persecution, arrest, torture, and murder. ...

Christians are, statistically speaking, the most persecuted religious minority in the world ('Pope makes statement by meeting victims of anti-Christian persecution,' Crux, Feb. 24, 2018).

Let that sit for a moment.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are, across the globe, the most persecuted religious minority.

Are we acting like it? Do we regularly intercede for them during the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, or during our family Rosaries and devotions at home?

Do we talk about the persecution our brothers and sisters are facing? Do we tell the stories of heroic martyrs, bearing witness to the faith even as they confront some of the worst sufferings imaginable?

Do we support organizations that bring aid to persecuted Christians such as the pontifical charities Aid to the Church in Need and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association?

And do we make use of the Divine Mercy devotions, with all their exceptional promises, to seek the conversion of the persecutors, the protection of the persecuted, and the health and well-being of the Church across the world?

Take just one devotion for a moment: venerating the Divine Mercy Image. Jesus said to St. Faustina:

I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 48).

Here we have the means of defeating our own enemies and the enemies of the Church with grace, love, and mercy! Here we have the means to end conflict by making our enemies into our brethren, our friends, our family.

So use the powerful means of grace offered you through the Image of Divine Mercy. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Rosary before it, especially at the Hour of Great Mercy (3 p.m.), asking God's gracious protection for the Church around the world; the conversion, salvation, and sanctification of all the Church's enemies; and every grace and blessing for all those brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing persecution.

Chris Sparks is author of How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question (Marian Press).

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